The larger the open space, the less the employees want to return to the office

3.12.2020

Office employees have been working from home with some breaks for almost 10 months. With the hope of the pandemic situation improving, the companies and their employees are considering whether to return to the old normal. However, a survey by the ABSL, which brings together customer, business and IT services providers, found that 4 out of 5 employees want to work more than half their working time from home in the future. This is an increase of 64 percentage points compared to before the pandemic broke out. A survey by Colliers states that especially those employees whose corporate offices are in the form of open space want to work from home 3 or more days per week. Companies are therefore considering a new office layout.

One third of companies in the field of customer, business and IT services are now considering reducing the number of corporate offices due to the higher interest in using the home office. Half of the companies plan to increase the number of shared job roles and 4% work to expand the locations of their offices so that employees can choose which part of the city they want to work from.

“The survey showed a clear trend, namely that flexibility and a hybrid model of work will remain an integral part of the work environment. The combination of work from home, from a corporate office or from another alternative place, such as a co-working space, will then change the form and function of the offices themselves. One of the changes already visible today is the increase in the number of shared jobs. During the pre-COVID period, they were intended for 19% of office employees. But in the post-COVID era it will be 45%, “says Jonathan Appleton, director of the ABSL.

According to Jana Vlková, director of Workplace Advisory at Colliers International, companies employing a large number of so-called white-collar workers, ie administrative professions, have several options to choose from in order to reorganize their offices to allow their people as much flexibility as possible and to support and develop their corporate culture. One of the possibilities is the Hub & Spoke model, in which the company reduces the size of the main office and complements it with smaller spaces in different locations in the same city or even within other regions. Offices in several locations are already operated by many large companies today, but so far individual spaces have not been used in the Hub & Spoke model, but were intended only for one specific department, not for all company employees. “It is for these companies that the Hub & Spoke model is offered as suitable and a feasible option available in a relatively short time. The aim is essentially to rebuild the regional offices into a kind of internal co-working, where any employee of the given company can work, “says Jana Vlková. According to her, another suitable alternative is the Flex & Core model, which combines the company’s head office offering a high-quality design and technologically equipped shared internal work environment with membership in one or more co-working centers. This model is especially suitable for companies with dynamically changing number of employees and therefore a fluctuating requirements for the capacity of offices.

Today, a new model of the working environment is being considered, for example, by Siemens Business Services, which is based in Prague Stodůlky and functions as a global business services center for Siemens.

“The pandemic has broken down all the barriers that often arise between employers and employees when it comes to flexible working environments, and has shown that much more flexible arrangements are possible than previously thought,”

said Adam Kiwalski, director of Siemens Business Services, adding that: “We cannot ignore the requirements for flexibility, but at the same time we need to ensure the contact of our people with the corporate identity and culture and to support their commitment and other aspects that build the relationship between the company and employees. I firmly believe that offices as such will remain a major part of our corporate life, but with a newly defined purpose. Instead of open space and jobs dedicated to specific employees, flexible zones will be created that allow both individuals and teams to function effectively, depending on their current needs. This change could also expand the leased space, for example in several co-working locations across the city itself, but also in the regions, which would allow our people to balance their work and life between corporate and home or other environments.

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